Blake Anderson Not Interested In Creating Quarterback Controversy

Sep 18, 2023, 10:25 AM | Updated: 10:45 am

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said he expects to have decided on a quarterback before the team meets on Monday afternoon. Anderson benched incumbent starter Cooper Legas for freshman McCae Hillstead in the second quarter on Saturday.

Anderson went on KSL Sports Zone to discuss USU’s 39-21 loss to Air Force with DJ & PK on Monday, September 18.

RELATED: ‘Eliminating Mistakes’ Focus For Utah State Looking Forward

Stopping short of declaring Hillstead the starter, Anderson implied a QB depth chart change is coming.

“I feel like the team needs to know exactly how we’re progressing and moving forward. It’s not a decision that I love making today by any means. I love Coop to death but I see the value in what McCae’s doing. I want to be fair to both and fair to the team.”

In his third start of the season, Legas opened 2-of-7 for 46 yards and two turnovers. Anderson spoke of jitters and an unwillingness to ‘pull the trigger’ led to Hillstead’s insertion early in the second quarter against Air Force.

Taking a majority of the snaps the rest of the game, Hillstead didn’t appear to be overmatched in just his second college game. The former Skyridge Falcon completed 18-of-27 passes for 202 yards and scoring strikes to three different receivers. His 202 passing yards are the most by an Aggie true freshman since Darrell Garretson threw for 298 yards against UNLV in 2013. Hillstead’s three touchdowns  are the most by an Aggie true freshman since Kent Myers had three touchdown passes at Hawai’i in 2014.

If Hillstead is named the starter, he’ll face a different type of pressure leading up to a home date with James Madison.

RELATED: Falcon Ground Game Carries Air Force To Win Over Utah State

“If McCae is thrown in as the starter his dynamic should change,” Anderson cautioned. “Is it something that a freshman can handle? As part of the decision-making process (coaches ask), ‘Is he ready for that kind of environment compared to coming off the bench?”

“I want to make sure it’s the right decision for everybody involved. I think our team deserves to know where we’re headed so I’ll have a decision made today.”

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Utah State (1-2) returns to Logan where they will host the James Madison Dukes (3-0) at Maverik Stadium on Saturday, September 23. This will be the first meeting between James Madison and the Aggies. USU will complete a two-game series with the Dukes when they travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia in 2025. The Dukes ascended to the FBS level for the 2022-23 academic year. This is their second season in the Sun Belt Conference.

USU football games are found on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White (1988-89) on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Blake Anderson Not Interested In Creating Quarterback Controversy